Get to know Black Rock Refill

Black Rock Refill (BRR), LLC, is an award-winning business that was established February 2017 by Samantha (Sami) Romanick. Black Rock Refill helps consumers reduce their household waste by offering reusable, refillable, and zero wastable products. Sami has selected every product sold by BRR carefully to make sure it fits BRR’s mission, to supply an alternative product to a plastic or wasteful household product that also reduces a waste stream within the household. Some product examples include refill options for household cleaners such as laundry detergent, reusable options for when you’re on the go such as reusable straws and utensils you can carry with you, and zero waste options such as safety razors.

After starting her own journey of reducing her household waste she noticed a lack in her community. After searching for refill options for household cleaners and personal care products in the Reno, NV area, she failed to find such options. The idea of a refill shop in Reno sparked and a few years later Black Rock Refill was born!

There are many refill shops across the U.S. and Sami has visited many for inspiration, but what she noticed instead was how many of them are still wasteful and full of plastic gallon jugs. Most refill shops refill consumers containers from a larger 1+ gallon plastic container where the shop is still responsible for disposing of that plastic container. Most shops find ways to repurpose these containers, but many simply recycle the containers. However, it is known that only 9% of plastics EVER made have been recycled, the rest end up stuffed in our Earth in a landfill or in our environment somewhere. Therefore, recycling is NOT a solution to plastic pollution. Black Rock Refill’s solution is reintroducing the concepts of Reuse and Refill.

Currently, BRR does not offer refills from larger plastic containers. BRR has the ability to offer bulk options; however, since BRR does not have a brick and mortar storefront, it only makes sense that they offer pre-weighed refills. These refills only come in recyclable (paper products not plastic) or compostable (paper, not industrial compostable; i.e. bioplastic) packaging. These pre-weighed refills are also perfect for online orders!

Since its start up, BRR has accomplished quite a lot and has spread its mission nationally and internationally. Sami is currently a graduate student at UNR pursuing her doctorate degree in Molecular Biology. Her passion is science education and research, so it makes sense that she not only sells these sustainable products but also enjoys educating her community on the importance of reusing and refilling. You can check out Black Rock Refill’s Resource page for information and educational videos on how to use BRR products as well as how to reduce household waste. Sami has a goal of ultimately researching the effects consuming microplastics have on human health. Although, she does not have the means to do so just yet, she has started to research the impact her customers make on the environment. You can check out Black Rock Refill’s Research page to see the results of this research and the impact BRR customers have made. For example, in 2019 BRR customers prevented the disposal of over 155,000 single-use plastic items from entering either a landfill or ecosystem.

As a scientist with a lack of entrepreneurial experience she took up advisement at the UNR Ozmen Center for entrepreneurship. There she was inspired to startup a DBA (Doing Business As) Campus Refill Initiative (CRI) where she brought BRR’s products to the students at UNR. College students are making their own lifestyle decisions for the first time outside of their parent’s homes, why not teach them to reuse and refill now where they can take these habits with them after graduation. Sami’s efforts with CRI was recognized when she received the Passion in Science Environmental Stewardship Award from New England Biolabs. New England Biolabs (NEB) sell enzymes to scientific researchers and recognizes scientists who go above and beyond their research with their Passion in Science Awards. Sami was able to educate the scientists at NEB at their campus in Ipswich, Massachusetts on how to live a low waste lifestyle. Her words were further shared among their colleagues through their Labconscious blog.  

The Ozmen Center also advised Sami to compete in the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition where she could win $50,000 to help grow her startup. Although, Sami did not win the competition she was 1 of 6 finalists of the competition and was chosen to present her business idea at the SGH Warsaw School of Economics – University of Nevada Reno Symposium in Warsaw, Poland. There Sami shared her enthusiasm for social entrepreneurship and educated her fellow entrepreneurs of the importance of reusing and refilling.

During these crazy times Sami is working hard to keep up an impact by increasing online presence. Rather than presenting at local events and vending at the local markets, Sami is creating educational materials and invading online markets with BRR products, and even emailing customers on updates regarding the use of plastic products during this pandemic. It is important that customers are NOT misinformed about single-use plastics, and especially after all of the efforts we have made to reduce single-use plastic consumption. It is important now more than ever to fight for both a healthy human population AND a healthy planet Earth! BRR pre-weighed refills are perfect products for both human health and our planet’s health, and since we specialize in household products, we need the continued support of our community staying at home. While we have the time at home let’s focus on how we can reduce our household waste.